Bears move within one win of BL baseball title
THOMASTON – The pitching is good, the hitting is good, the fundamentals are solid. But if you’re looking for the key ingredient that has the Thomaston High baseball team within one win of its first Berkshire League title in 29 years (1985) all you had to do was drive by Black Rock Field about 7 a.m. Saturday morning.
Anxious to get their game in with archrival Terryville after a night of heavy rain a bevy of Bears already attired in various stages of game uniforms were furiously attacking the resulting water, mud and sludge.
The game got in under sunny skies and the Bears bopped the Kangaroos, 7-1, with an efficient effort. But coach Bob McMahon saw what moves his team long before the game began.
“What I’m most impressed with today is seeing these guys here at 7 with shop vacs, speed dry and everything else,” said McMahon. “They want to play baseball. They want to be here.”
And the Bears play it well. Well enough to raise their record to 14-1 (13-1 BL), giving them a three-game lead over Lewis Mills with four left to play. One win insures a share of the title, two and the trophy will be solely owned.
Once they took care of the field, they took care of the Kangaroos (9-7) with a couple of seniors playing dominant roles. Brian Butkevicius was in command on the mound throughout the game, scattering seven hits while striking out five and walking six.
Butkevicius only had one 1-2-3 inning but never seemed ready to let it get away. He pitched six scoreless innings before Terryville avoided the shutout in the seventh when Jake Wright’s RBI double plated Connor Levins.
Meanwhile Jake Tehan was carrying a heavy load at the plate. Tehan slugged a long two-run double in the second inning to highlight a three-run second inning which would prove to be plenty of support for Butkevicius.
Thomaston made it 5-0 in the third inning with Blaise Russo turning on the afterburners to score on a passed ball and sophomore Justin Taylor scoring Dan LeVasseur (single) with an RBI single to right.
The Bears completed the scoring with solo runs in the sixth and seventh inning. Matt Tehan doubled to lead off the sixth inning and scored on Tyler Donofrio’s ground out to the right side one out later.
Milius made it 7-0 when he beat out an infield single, eventually scoring from third base on a throwing error down to the bag.
Despite the long BL title dry spell (the Bears won the Class S state title in 2008), there has been little talk of anything more than the next opponent. And so it was after this win.
“You have to think simple, we don’t want to think huge,’ said Jake Tehan. ‘It is one game at a time. Win this game an on to the next game.”
“It’s not really what we are talking about on the field,” agreed McMahon. “We’re thinking about where to throw the ball, pitch to contact, get on first base, move the runner over and things like that.”
The Bears ripped off 11 straight wins before dropping a 5-1 decision to Lewis Mills Monday. Since then they have posted wins over Northwestern, Litchfield and Terryville. Getting back on the horse has been done with missing a step.
“This has been the most important week of the year,’ said Tehan. “The loss to Lewis Mills was tough but we knew we could beat Northwestern, we’re 3-1 against them the last two years. That gave us a confidence boost.”
“The core four seniors (Tehan, Butkevicius, Russo, LeVasseur) have been remarkable with their leadership,” added McMahon. “The rest have fallen in line.”
Maybe because they like to be there. Even at 7 a.m., especially if means another win.